Earlier this week SEGA, the company that at one time was a giant in the world of video game hardware with the Genesis and Dreamcast, announced they would bring a series of their “classic” titles to mobile devices, with an initiative called SEGA Forever. Free to play, ad-supported ports of old SEGA games came to iOS and Android stores. The gaming ecosystem at large just sort of went “meh.” Which begs the question, who was this really for?

Certainly, nostalgia is a powerful force in consumerism, as evidenced by Nintendo’s contempt for the common people by making a really awesome retro box and then months later simply saying too bad you can’t have one. SEGA trying not to fall behind the curve, have tried to play up our fond memories and they’ve come out swinging. The SEGA Forever lineup brought out some of  their most infamous games:

  • Sonic The Hedgehog
  • Comix Zone
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Altered Beast
  • Phantasy Star II

The launch lineup while adorable are games that have been available in some form through either a games collection for consoles or eShop. It’ll be interesting to see if SEGA puts out any download numbers on these games. As of now Sonic The Hedgehog has surpassed the 50k downloads mark on Android but still hasn’t cracked the shop’s most popular category.

SEGA Forever isn’t a bad idea itself, it’s targeted marketing is the weak link in all this. Every press release and video is aimed at the die-hard gaming consumer. A base that simply doesn’t need an emulator for a device they historically ignore as a gaming platform. A better use of SEGA’s marketing would be to market the initiative to the audience that grew up out of gaming. The college kid who had a Genesis in his dorm then later got kids instead of a PlayStation. People who had a casual fling with video games at one time or another and now only recognize major figures such as Super Mario or Sonic The Hedgehog. If SEGA were ever going to buy primetime cable or network TV spots this would be the product to do it for. Sure it’s a free-to-play game but the potential ad revenue could pay for real SEGA projects down the road.

With a decent sized library of games from the Master System to Genesis era, the coming months will see more games come to mobile through SEGA Forever. How much Sonic and Outrun can a person take? In order for SEGA to set itself apart in the retro market, they need to lean on or relicense the third party games. I’d love to replay the Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin game or both the X-Men titles that were on the Genesis. While the games SEGA could put out with little to no red tape will fill the next couple of months it will run dry. Going into the deeper part of the catalog would alleviate that worry as well as carrying more appeal to their coveted current gaming fan demo.

Is SEGA on the right path? Do you care about playing games on your phone? Can you name a SEGA game other than Sonic or Altered Beasts?



  1. “In order for SEGA to set itself apart in the retro market, they need to lean on or relicense the third party games. I’d love to replay the Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin game or both the X-Men titles that were on the Genesis.”

    None of which were third-party games. They’d need to be re-licensed, yes, because they’re licensed properties. But all three of your examples were published by Sega.

    Anyhow, to answer your question: I could see myself playing Phantasy Star, Shining Force, and other menu-based games on my phone, but I’m not going to mess around with a platformer like Sonic without a controller.

    I’ve tried hooking my phone up to a TV and pairing it to a Bluetooth controller before, but that setup is frickin’ inconvenient when I get a phone call. Course, I’ve also got an Android tablet, which I won’t be getting any phone calls on, and I’ve been wanting to check out Christian Whitehead’s remake of Sonic 1 (having been impressed by his remakes of Sonic 2 and Sonic CD). So I could see firing it up on my tablet — but, again, not without a controller to play it with.

    I’d much rather they just sell DRM-free Genesis ROMs and let me play them on whatever emulator I want. It’s not like they’re preventing piracy by putting DRM on ROMs that have been available illicitly for the past 20 years.

  2. I guess it depends on what games they get. You’re right, the well will run dry soon. It’s easy to get Sonic on every device known to man, don’t need it again

  3. The ads are really in your face. Kinda don’t like it.

    Overall the game controls worked well, but the problem with so many retro games, is that they just don’t hold up very well as they age. It was fun to play a level of sonic and altered beast, but i was good afterwards.

  4. They run really poorly, and that’s a dealbreaker. They’re aiming for 60 fps but so many frames are dropped that it really affects the responsiveness of the games.

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